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Topic: What disc did you have in last (and what did you think)? Post ReplyPost New Topic
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James Best
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Posted: 29 January 2018 at 10:14pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Re-watched TROY (2004) via Netflix.

Starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Diane Kruger, Saffron Burrows, Rose Byrne, Tyler Mane, Julie Christie, and Garrett Hedlund. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.

I first saw this movie in an actual theater at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. It had been an Iraqi Air Force base up until the 2003 invasion but after American military forces occupied it they had the theater renovated in order to show newly released U.S. films. 

I remember enjoying it the first time I saw it, but it hasn’t aged well over the last decade and change. I had high hopes for it because Petersen had directed one of my all-time favorite films (DAS BOOT, 1981). But it just doesn’t grab you like a good epic war film should.

Oh well. At least the movie gave me my first look at Rose Byrne. I guess that is something… :-) 

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 01 February 2018 at 5:52pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply


Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's
THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)

Instantly loved it, when I first saw it years ago... of all the 1940's films in my collection, this could easily be a Top 5 favorite from that decade.

Solid acting, writing, direction and b&w photography, all-around.



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 February 2018 at 1:55am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

THE THING (2011).


Sigh.

I finally got around to watching this, after nearly seven years. It’s as much of a damp squib as I expected. A truly ill-conceived prequel/remake which basically exists just to play connect-the-dots regarding the story of the Norwegian camp from John Carpenter’s brilliant 1982 film (How did that axe get stuck in the door? What made the hole in the roof in the room where the Thing’s ice-block was stored? What’s the story of the guy who slit his own throat and wrists? Etc., etc., etc.). When the most exciting moment in the film is literally the end credit-tag sequence which links it to Carpenter’s, you know there’s a problem.

The original film carefully and masterfully built up the characters and the tension, which really made the jump-scare “Thing-out” moments that much more effective. The 2011 film starts troweling on the spooky music and shaky-cam shots pretty much from the very beginning. The characters are cyphers. There’s CGI overload, right down to the obvious CGI breath coming from the actors’ mouths to simulate the cold without having to work for it. To his eternal credit, Carpenter shot his film on a refrigerated stage to get real breath coming out of his suffering actors. Like its titular creature, the CGI breath is just a soulless imitation of the real...er...thing, just as the film itself is a pale imitation of Carpenter’s.

This should have been a fun and nasty little foreign art-house horror film with an all-Norwegian cast speaking subtitled dialogue (instead of having a co-ed mix of Norwegians and Americans). Instead, this is a post-millennium version of THE THING. Carpenter’s film would never be made today, and the 2011 version shows exactly would have happened if he’d tried: Effects over story, women added to the cast to avoid charges of sexism (and there’s a female lead, no less), and a “happy” ending.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a fine actress, but Kate Lloyd has no real personality to speak of. She just comes into the Norwegian camp, quickly puts all of the puzzle pieces together because the script requires it, unrealistically takes charge of the situation, immediately comes up with a test to see who’s human (...which is, thankfully different from the famous blood test of the ‘82 film...but it’s also way less interesting) and is (almost) the only survivor.

Carpenter’s film painted a clear and simple picture of what happened at the Norwegian camp, especially since we see the similar progression of events at the American camp, and can therefore easily imagine the sequence of events which had occurred prior. This film tries and fails to use the “Since we didn’t see the destruction of the Norwegian camp onscreen, then X, Y, and Z could have happened!”, as with the Final Battle inside the flying saucer, which Kate stops from taking off (despite its having been buried in the ice for 100,000 years). And, bafflingly, we never get the scene where the ship is excavated with thermite charges by the Norwegians, which was one of the few tangible bits of backstory in the 1982 film that could and should have been made use of.

There’s so much contrivance and poorly thought-out reverse-engineering of the 1982 film that I don’t know where to begin. The explanation for the two-headed Thing body from the ‘82 film goes out of its way to make no sense, as that creature was clearly the Thing trying to replicate two men, rather than one Thing trying to absorb a man and then partially fusing with it. 

The characters all figure out the mechanics of the Thing way, way sooner than they should, and make major leaps in logic because the script needs them to. Kate conveniently drives off to a Russian camp 50 miles away, rather than to the much closer American outpost, so as to not break continuity. Perhaps worst of all, news of the saucer’s discovery technically makes it to America, when Sander (who’s basically the “bad guy” in a film that doesn’t need one) comes to enlist Kate. The sense of isolation and an apocalypse brewing in Antarctica, unknown to the rest of the world, is totally missing.

Dull, lifeless, and totally lacking in the suspense, dread, and paranoia of Carpenter’s film. Everything moves so fast that the moments don’t play. Nothing has time to build, and the characters are totally reactionary and totally devoid of personalities.

Is this an awful film? No, it’s a passable enough diversion. But it IS pointless, boring, predictable, and lifeless, and I’m not at all surprised that it bombed.  


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 04 February 2018 at 2:04am
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 04 February 2018 at 10:13am | IP Logged | 4 post reply


Sequels/remakes/reboots of '80s cult classics, that were never huge box office hits to begin with (or outright bombs), almost never seem to pan-out in the end... TRON: LEGACY (big hit, lousy movie), THE THING (2011) (rightfully ignored), BLADE RUNNER 2049 (critical hit, financial dud)...

Just be thankful some of the original films eventually found appreciation years later, and leave them alone!

(If that proposed DARK CRYSTAL follow-up ever sees the light of day, that will probably tank, too!)



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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 February 2018 at 10:27am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I recall watching the 2011 THING OnDemand, with my thumb on the Fast Forward button most of the time.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 04 February 2018 at 10:46am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

The inherent problem with this one is that it’s pointless. If you’ve seen the ‘82 film, you already know how this film ends (and the mechanics of how the alien operates), and so the unraveling of the mystery and the explanations for everything are breezed through as quickly (and illogically) as possible. If you haven’t seen the ‘82 film, there’s not a lot to latch onto, in terms of characters and plot. Events just happen and characters figure things out because the script needs them to.

Also, I did some research, and it seems that the decision was made to have the alien ship almost take off purely as a way for it to break through the ice, since there’s no way that the Norwegian camp would have had enough explosives to unbury it. 

...except that we SAW them do it in the video footage which was recovered from the destroyed camp in the ‘82 film! If you’re recreating the original sets in meticulous detail, and are taking pains to explain all of the little details from the original (the axe in the door, etc.), you can’t just go and completely rewrite/ignore a major element of the established backstory. Oy. 

The absolute worst thing about Hollywood’s obsession with prequels and spin-offs is that they often do nothing to justify their existence. They tend to bring nothing new or interesting to the table, and coast on the nostalgia-milking notion of connecting dots and tying up loose ends. That sort of thing should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. 
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:14pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

COP LAND (1997)

I've only ever owned 3 Stallone films, and this is one of them.
Lots of heavy hitters but I felt some of the roles could have been played by lesser knowns just as well, they tend to be a bit distracting IMHO.

I enjoyed the down played personality and looks (extra 40lbs) of Stallone.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 February 2018 at 1:47pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

THE MISFITS (1961)

Second viewing. As disturbing/depressing as the first. Can't help superimposing reality on the story. Gable and Monroe died very close to the release -- Gable actually before.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 8:42am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUKOO'S NEST (1975)

To describe this movie as "legendary" is something of an understatement, yet somehow I did not see it until last night, on DVD.

Well, okay, full disclosure -- I've actively avoided seeing it. Not a Jack Nicholson fan, and the whole gist of the thing seemed far from my taste in movies. But a friend gave me the disc, so I felt I should watch it.

Knowing the ending was probably a big block in terms of my enjoying the film, and enjoy it I did not. Main problem is that it was hard to make a "hero" out of the Nicholson character, who is a complete a**hole at all times. Everything that happens to him, he brings on himself.

Somewhat distracting at first to see all those young faces. ("Holy cow! Is that Danny DeVito??")

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John Popa
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 9:22am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I saw "Cuckoo's Nest" on Broadway with Gary Sinise and enjoyed it more than the movie, especially because, to me, Sinise is a more likable actor than Nicholson.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 9:24am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

DAYS OF THUNDER (1990)

Solid at least. Definitely a product of its era. I enjoyed motorsports so probably derived enjoyment based on that.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 February 2018 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I saw "Cuckoo's Nest" on Broadway with Gary Sinise and enjoyed it more than the movie, especially because, to me, Sinise is a more likable actor than Nicholson.

••

From what I have read, McMurphy in the book is even MORE unlikeable -- and not the main character! That's the Chief, who narrates the whole thing.

Interesting bit of Trivia, the movie was co-produced by Michael Douglas, and Kirk Douglas had played McMurphy on Broadway.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 10:51am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

TOP GUN (1986)

Not a fan. Second time I have viewed this.

I don't get why folk enjoy it. There was nothing even remotely compelling in it. Lots of things felt contrived. It felt like a music video that had somehow been turned into a film. Style over substance.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 11:07am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Oliver & Company (1988).

Underwhelming. Disney was on the cusp of a great rennaissance when they made this animated feature, but you wouldn't really know it from this loose adaptation of Oliver Twist. The titular kitten is well done, but I found most of the other characters unappealing. Fagin felt particularly off, and Dom DeLuise's voice seemed ill-suited to the character design in the film (and the character in general). The style of the animation isn't to my taste, lacking the typical Disney polish, the songs were forgettable and the few attempts at humour are uninspired (for example, Bette Midler's spoilt poodle screams, the other dogs want to know what's wrong, she says she broke a nail... Excuse me while I split my sides).

Things would pick up massively the following year when the Little Mermaid came out, but this film is one to forget.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 12:14pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Top Gun, Cocktail and Days of Thunder, all 80`s Tom
Cruise films that i have never seen, the trailers were
enough to put me off! As Robbie said, `Style over
substance` was the impression i got.I mean
Cocktail...how do you make a movie about shaking
cocktails interesting?
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 12:34pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Top Gun, Cocktail and Days of Thunder, all 80`s Tom 
Cruise films that i have never seen,
---------------------------------------------
Days of Thunder was from 1990. 

Pedantic Pete :)
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Steve Coates
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 12:58pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

A summer 1990 release would still require most of the filming and compilation to occur in the previous year.;)

Whenever I am accused of being pedantic, I reply with " What is wrong with being accurate and precise?".
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Steve Coates
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 1:05pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Now, why did I stop in here...

Oh, yes. Watched Ghost in a Shell (2017) on Netflix. It looked so pretty and I thought by the end of the movie it would have been worth watching. It wasn't!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 1:12pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

 Bill Collins wrote:
I mean Cocktail...how do you make a movie about shaking cocktails interesting?

It's about bartending, not specific cocktails, Bill. ;-)

And it was the best film of 1988 (well, the second best after BEETLEJUICE). DC should have done an adaptation of COCKTAIL. 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 09 February 2018 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Pedantism the curse of the internet! Whatever, those Tom
Cruise films were shallow shite! Yes, you pedants, I
haven't seen them, but I have faith in my opinions based
on trailers! ;-)
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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 9:35am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

WONDER WOMAN (2017)

Well, sort of. I was channel surfing when the phone rang, so I muted the TV to answer. Next up, while I chatted, came WONDER WOMAN. I had no interest in seeing this again, after being so disappointed by my single viewing in the theater, but I left it on.

Immediately started noticing that even the Themyscira scenes, which I'd said were the best part of the movie, were flawed. By the time Diana and Steve set off on their miraculous overnight boat ride from Greece to London, I changed channels.

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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 11:49am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

TOP GUN is bad. Many of the elements that people seem to think make it good...are bad.

Acting: bad
Dialogue: bad
Dogfight scenes: worse than bad, they're boring.
Music: I like Kenny Loggins, so "Danger Zone" gets a pass, but everything else is pretty bad.

I almost always like Val Kilmer. But I like him a lot more in TOP SECRET! than I do in TOP GUN.

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Bill Collins
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 1:28pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Brian, thank you for confirming my suspicions!
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James Best
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 7:06pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

TOP GUN may be a bad movie and I won't argue about the content as the other JBF members have done so much better than I can. But there is no doubt that the film was a dream-come-true for Navy recruiters back in the 80's.

I was an Army ROTC cadet in college when TOP GUN was first released in theaters. Over the following two semesters the number of Navy ROTC midshipmen at my university absolutely exploded as everyone and their kid brother wanted to become an F-16 pilot.

Attrition and common sense eventually balanced the scales. But it was fun to watch while it lasted.


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Peter Martin
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 8:07pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Loved the soundtrack to Top Gun, but the film did bore me.

I watched Seven Samurai (1954). Not really an action film as such, but most action films could learn a thing or seven from this epic. The final battle works not because of its choreographed set-pieces (it's more of a muddy mess), but because we have spent the preceding 3 hours getting to know the ins and outs of the protagonists. And that's not just the eponymous septet, but the peasants like Rikichi, Yohei, Manzo and Shino. We know these characters' hopes and fears, how they interrelate to each other, how they lie and boast, and empathise and admire, and worry and joke with each other.

Takashi Shimura is suitably noble and wise as the leader Kambei, but it is Toshiro Mifune that ultimately makes the biggest impression, his character having the most layers.

The film is very rich. It's complex, moving, earthy... and occasionally very funny. Every scene with Mifune and his horse gets a laugh out of me. 
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